Hutong haunts: Rager Pie and Gospel Coffee

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The Big Stipper and I had lunch at the new Great Leap a few weeks ago. He is a big fan of Victory beer from Pennsylvania, the guest brew at that time, and looked like a kid opening his New Year hongbao. We opted for the pizza special: the pair of slices we tried were delicious, especially the cheese, though one of the two beers that were part of the deal was out of stock.

Since The Stipper had his car and a few hours to spare, we decided to venture to Rager Pie in Andingmen for coffee and dessert. Driving in the hutongs sucks, especially if you make a wrong turn, and the patience of Stipp in negotiating narrow alleyways while ignoring hostile stares from bicyclists and pedestrians — the kind I give to motorists — impressed me.

We eventually parked the car and walked to Rager. When I tried these pies at the recent Jue Market, two things struck me. One, the ingredients inside the crust tasted good. Two, the organic whole wheat crust itself doesn’t work for me.

It’s like giving someone a 10-ounce Red Star erguotou martini and making sure the lemon peel garnish is organic. Okay, it’s not really like that, but if I’m eating something called burrito pie, I’m not interested in the health benefits of that crust. The same goes with the pecan pie we tried: in our humble opinions, the delicious inside didn’t work with the flavor, texture and dryness of the outside. That’s not to say Rager doesn’t have a loyal following of those who enjoy organic whole wheat crusts, just that The Stipper and I aren’t all that health-conscious.

We also ordered double espressos, which uses beans come from Gospel Coffee Roasters. Our espressos came with an enduring layer of foam and an appealing richness and bitterness. Excellent value at rmb22. TBS even bought a bag of beans, which came, if memory serves, to rmb70 for 500 grams.

Finally, I tried a shot of the house vodka infusion, which includes garlic and chili peppers. I’ll say it snapped me out of my post-pizza lunch slump even more than the coffee.

Rager pie is at 10 Fensiting Hutong and is open Tuesday to Sunday, 7 AM to 9 PM.

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